Perusing my archives I came across this post about 72 year-old Lena Haddix of Lawton, OK who volunteered for deployment as a civilian Department of Defense employee to the Middle East. That was in November of 2004. Now I find this story about Ms. Haddix:
DALLAS, Jan. 9, 2006 — Folks in Oklahoma are readjusting to an image not typically associated with the global war on terrorism, a 73-year old great-grandmother just back from Operation Iraqi Freedom.That is just too cool!
Lena Haddix, a native of Lawton, has spent the last six months in full battle armor helping troops find snacks, shampoo and other American products at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service Post Exchange/Base Exchange in Camp Liberty, Iraq.
The personification of the Exchange's motto of “We Go Where You Go,” Haddix recently returned from her second voluntary deployment to the Middle East as a store manager. After previously volunteering to work in Kuwait, Haddix decided her work wasn't done and went back for a second tour of duty, this time to Baghdad, Iraq.
“I'm glad to do it for the soldiers,” said Haddix. She explained that troops came to expect her presence at the store and often called her mom.
“When the convoys would come back, the troops would stop by the store and shout, ‘Mom, we made it!’”
After being gone for almost a year, Haddix will return to the Fort Sill Post Exchange to continue to support troops and their families here at home.
“People like Lena are critical to the morale of our deployed troops,” said AAFES Chief of Contingency Planning Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “It is only through them that AAFES is able to deliver retail, fast food and telecommunication services that they would expect to find back home to a war zone.”
When asked about her time overseas and if she would consider going back, Haddix replied, “I’m thinking about it.”
AAFES currently operates more than 60 stores throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Troops can find a variety of items from basic supplies including socks, personal care items and beverages to comfort items including televisions, DVD players and movies.